Rachel Slater is off to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in October, and the Northern Diamonds seam bowler has admitted: “It’s pretty mental, and I can’t quite believe it.”

Slater has just returned home from a month in Abu Dhabi, where she helped Scotland reach the final of the ICC’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers event.

The left-armer was the bowling star of the whole tournament, finishing with 11 wickets in six matches, including notable hauls of 5-17, 3-32 and 2-35.

No other bowler in the event matched the 22-year-old’s return. Her five-for  came in an opening day win against Uganda before her three wickets came in the all-important semi-final win over Ireland, which qualified the Scots for Bangladesh. 

Fellow Diamond Katherine Fraser also played all six matches for Scotland,  contributing two wickets with her off-spinners.

As for Slater, she added two wickets in the event’s final, a defeat against Sri Lanka. But, really, with the two finalists qualifying, the most important fixture was against the Irish.

Rachel Slater

Picture by Francois Nel. ICC via Getty Images. Rachel Slater celebrates a wicket during the ICC T20 WC Global Qualifiers semi-final against Ireland last weekend.

“I’d definitely say that the semi-final against Ireland was the best day of my career so far, and it was a really good month as well,” said the Leeds-raised bowler with a Scottish mother.

“It’s been amazing. To be honest, I’m still pretty speechless about what we achieved. 

“I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. I’ve had so much fun. Every time I think about it, I just start laughing.”

On the Ireland game, which Scotland won by eight wickets chasing 111, she continued: “To do it against Ireland was massive. They were the team who ended our tournament last time around (2022).

“To have family there, it was unbelievable.

“I want to be the player who takes big wickets, but I didn’t start very well.

Katherine Fraser

Picture by Francois Nel. ICC via Getty Images. Northern Diamonds off-spinner Katherine Fraser (l) is World Cup-bound. Celebrating here with team-mate Abtaha Maqsood, of Sunrisers.

“My first over with the new ball went for 11. But the next ball after that over, I helped to get (Orla) Prendergast run out, and that was one of my favourite personal moments of the month. To be able to park what had just happened in my first over, it’s something I pride myself on – just staying in the game.

“Whether you’ve bowled, batted or fielded badly, it’s about trying to do the next thing right. To contribute there and then to get three wickets in the last over to help qualify us, it was a great day.”

In terms of finishing as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, Slater continued: “I didn’t actually know until I got told.

“It’s not something I massively keep my eye on, to be honest. I’m just concentrating on doing my job for the team. But it was really nice to get told that.”

Slater exploits were all the more impressive given the amount of cricket she had played leading into her trip to Abu Dhabi, which started in early April and ran through to Tuesday just gone. 

Through the calendar year of 2023, she only played eight matches for club and country, owing much to injury and a well-documented battle with ADHD.

Rachel Slater

Picture by Francois Nel. ICC via Getty Images. Eleven-wicket star Rachel Slater bowls in Abu Dhabi.

“The last year or so, I’ve not played a lot of cricket,” she said. “Even in the games I’d played previously for Scotland, I’d been a bit short on wickets and a bit frustrated by that. 

“So it was nice to consistently put some performances in and do what I know I’m capable of and take big wickets in the powerplay and the death.

“It was quite useful that we went out a few weeks early and played two ODIs and three T20s before the tournament. I played four or five games leading in and felt good. 

“But to do it when the pressure’s on and almost every game is must win was really nice. It’s given me a lot of confidence coming back here

“Hopefully I can now play in the T20s with the Diamonds and carry on this form.”

Slater’s 5-17 against Uganda was her first senior five-wicket haul for any team, including Yorkshire women and the Diamonds.

Rachel Slater

Picture by Francois Nel. ICC via Getty Images. Rachel Slater was named player-of-the-match after her five wickets in the tournament opener against Uganda last month.

She had previously taken three five-wicket hauls and one six-for for her home county’s age-group teams, from Under 13s to Under 17s.

“I was on a hat-trick at one point as well,” she reflected. “But I wasn’t really thinking, ‘I could get a five-for here’.

“For the first game of the tournament to go so well and smoothly – to have a game where everything came out how I wanted it to – was really good. It set the tone.

“Even though I then had a couple of games where things didn’t go quite as well, having had that initially made me think, ‘I know what I can do, I’ve done it already’. It was really helpful.”

Scotland take their place in a 10-team World Cup and are in Group B alongside hosts Bangladesh, England, South Africa and West Indies.

There is clearly one fixture which stands out! 

Hollie Armitage

Picture by Evan Barnes/Getty Images. Rachel Slater could come up against her regional captain Hollie Armitage at October’s World Cup.

“Scotland v England will be a massive game (October 14, Dhaka),” added Slater.

“I think I read somewhere that it’s not happened in women’s cricket since 2001. Hopefully Bess (Heath) will be involved with England then, Hollie (Armitage) as well. That would be really cool and an amazing experience.

“That’s definitely the one we said we’re most looking forward to. But every game at a World Cup is going to be amazing. 

“I definitely think there are some games we’re capable of winning. It’s all really exciting, and we can’t wait to get there.

“But my main priority right now is Diamonds and having a good summer with them. It’s been nice to celebrate that achievement, but as soon as I’m back in with the Diamonds that will be to the back of my mind. 

“I want to help the Diamonds win and trophy or two, earn a Hundred contract and focus on my cricket here for now.”

Rachel Slater

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Rachel Slater is now aiming for success with the Northern Diamonds in 2024.

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